If you want to boil it down to a binary, people tend to have two different views of change: Either they’re from the “out with the old, in with the new” school of embracing it, or they ascribe to the “out the frying pan, into the fire” view, in which things typically go from bad to worse.
Devotees of the latter view have a bit more ammunition for their case after Sunday.
That’s when Rep. Adam Schiff — the smarmy California Democrat behind the unending investigations into Russian collusion during Donald Trump’s presidency — refused to respond to reports that he’s one of the top candidates tipped to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democratic caucus in the lower chamber.
“The speaker has been truly the most impressive and credible and productive speaker in our history. So I hope that she’ll stay,” Schiff told CNN’s Jake Tapper when asked about the reports he was jockeying to take her place, either as speaker or as House minority leader should the Democrats lose the lower chamber in November’s midterm elections.
“If she makes the decision not to stay, right now, all I’m focused on is making sure that we are successful in this midterms, that we have a majority to pick the next speaker,” he added.
In the words of the immortal Jeanie Bueller, dry that one out and you could fertilize the lawn.
There’s been much speculation about what will happen with Pelosi’s position in Democrat leadership after the midterms. Despite the Democrats retaking the House in 2018, Pelosi faced a revolt from the left wing of her party for being insufficiently progressive and only managed to avoid a splintering of the votes for speaker by promising to only serve two more terms in that role.
That would technically mean time’s up for Nancy, who’s a high-mileage 82 years old. However, Pelosi has been cagey about her intentions, announcing this year that she’d be running for another term in her San Francisco-based district.
If she were to go, the betting money was around Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York to replace her.
Jeffries ticks off a lot of boxes for the Democrats.
The 52-year-old congressman is neither too young, like members of the so-called squad of progressives, nor old enough to be in the eating-dinner-at-Denny’s-at-3 p.m. crowd like potential challengers Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina (82) or Steny Hoyer of Maryland (83).
He’s certainly not a moderate, but he hasn’t gone off the deep progressive end like Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, also tipped to be in the speaker mix.
And, perhaps most importantly, Jeffries is black, meaning he fulfills the unspoken requirement that the replacement for the first female speaker must be a member of some group perceived to be at a sociopolitical disadvantage.
Late last month, though, The Washington Post reported that Schiff “is exploring a bid to lead the House Democratic caucus if Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) retires after the midterm elections.”
“If he can amass enough interest in his candidacy, Schiff would upend a race that was considered largely set, challenging a variety of Democrats gunning for the top spot,” the paper reported.
“Schiff’s overtures, which began in earnest earlier this year, have focused on consolidating support among his home base, the expansive California delegation, according to members of that group,” the Post noted. “And though he has not made an explicit ask for endorsements, he is gauging members’ interest and planting the seed that leading the caucus is his goal.
“Schiff has also reached out to members in a variety of key blocs in the vast Democratic caucus, including the minority tri-caucuses made up of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
“He has also reached out to the ideological factions within the Democratic caucus: both the large Progressive Caucus and the centrist New Democrat Coalition, of which he is a member, according to several people with knowledge of the outreach.”
Schiff doesn’t check off one of the agenda boxes, being white, male and cisgender. However, there’s one way to overcome any of that in party politics: raise a whole lot of money. That box Schiff has definitely checked off, and how.
According to data from OpenSecrets, Schiff had raised $16.9 million for the 2022 midterms through June 30. That’s more than his three biggest rivals in the speaker race — Jeffries, Hoyer and Clyburn — combined.
Jeffries raised $4.4 million, with Hoyer taking in $3 million and Clyburn raking in $2.7 million.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, Schiff manages to somehow be a worse candidate than Pelosi to head the Democratic caucus in the House.
Don’t get me wrong — Clyburn, Hoyer and Jeffries wouldn’t be an improvement, either, but at least Pelosi and the three of them have policy bona fides, just policy bona fides you’re not going to like.
Schiff, on the other hand, has built his profile and portfolio entirely out of milking the Trump-Russia hoax for all it’s worth.
When the Steele dossier collapsed and the Mueller report didn’t shake out the way Democrats wanted, the congressman led the charge to impeach Trump the first time, wasting his time and the nation’s in the process.
Now, Schiff’s highest-profile role is on the Democrats’ rigged committee on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion — more proof that the California lawmaker is nothing more than a pony with one very shopworn trick.
Thus, if you’re on team “out with the old, in with the new,” you’d better hope the GOP retakes the House in the midterms — and vote like it.
Nancy Pelosi may be the frying pan, but Adam Schiff is one very hot fire for America to stumble into, particularly if he grabs the speaker role.
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